HANNOVER, GERMANY - A large-area gripping system, the FMP/FXP from J. Schmalz, is being shown at Ligna 2013 wood inudstry trade show here in Hannover, and will become available this year, with applications in automated panel and wood product materials handling systems.

An earlier generation, FM/FX, was developed in 2001 based on requests for handling unplaned boards in the timber and furniture industries. During the product development process, the idea of developing a modular universal gripper that could handle various requirements began to take shape, says Schmalz.

That led to the FMC/FXC, in 2006, which made use of an extruded aluminum section as the basic body, making it easier to adjust the length of the gripper. Now the third generation of these large-area gripping systems -  the FMP/FXP - makes it possible to handle workpieces made of various materials such as wood, metal sheet, glass, cardboard or plastic with different shapes, surfaces and dimensions.

"The workpieces can even be picked up from an imprecise position,” says Peter Gröning, who heads vacuum gripping systems business development at Schmalz.

The new system won't drop porous workpieces and or workpieces with gaps, and is said to be particularly suitable for use in the timber and furniture industries for handling coated or unplaned wooden workpieces such as boards, beams or panels.

 Schmalz is also introducing new vacuum block VC-R for CNC machining on grid tables. Different sizes make it possible to clamp workpieces with extremely different shapes, an integrated sensing valve maintains a closed vacuum system, even when the suction pads are not covered.

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